Education

Dr. Moore is a senior scholar and senior program area director for youth development at Child Trends since 1982. Dr. Moore was the founding chair of the Effective Programs and Research Task Force for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.  She currently serves on the Evaluation Advisory Committee for the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, and the evaluation and research committee for Big Brothers Big Sisters. She is currently working on multiple  evaluation  projects, including evaluations of Abriendo Puertas, Pregnancy Prevention Approaches, Personal Responsibility Education Program, and Trauma Systems Therapy for KVC. Dr. Moore earned her Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Michigan.

Educational achievement is not only critical to later workforce success; but education contributes to adults’ physical, mental, and social health as well.  Unfortunately, educational success is not assured, especially for children from families and communities that are economically and socially distressed.  These students tend to have numerous unmet needs that interfere with their school success.

While tutoring and strong academic instruction are important to educational success, experience demonstrates that it’s not enough.  Fortunately, the importance of non-academic competencies and strengths for academic success is being recognized.  Students can’t succeed in school if they cannot see the board, and they can’t concentrate if they fear being bullied.  Also, students whose families are homeless and adolescents who are depressed aren’t going to be fully engaged in learning.

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Amelia Marcetti Topper has been a part of the education community for over 16 years as a teacher and researcher. She is a doctoral candidate in Arizona State University’s Education Policy and Evaluation program, specializing in Higher Education. Her current research is on issues of access and equity in higher education from the perspective of the capabilities approach, a human development framework. Her dissertation project uses survey, interview, visual elicitation, and participatory ranking methods to explore the tension between perceptions of community college “student success” between students, faculty, and administrators. She holds a Master’s in Leadership in Teaching from Notre Dame of Maryland University and a Bachelor’s in Philosophy and the History of Mathematics and Sciences with a minor in Classical Languages from St. John’s College.

The Equity Alliance’s recently published blog post by Dr. Stuart Rhoden calls attention to the growing number of families who are choosing to opt their children out of taking mandatory state standardized exams. Dr. Rhoden argued that opting out is damaging to our students by sending the message that it is okay to give up when faced with a hard task, and that families need to work within the system to bring about changes in accountability measures instead of removing themselves from it out of protest. As I read his commentary, I was struck by his reliance on a popular and pernicious narrative dominating current discussions of what it takes for students to be successful. This type of language, which often uses terms like grit, persistence, perseverance, and sacrifice, is perhaps as damaging as our high stakes testing climate to the education community in that it glorifies the talents and commitment of the individual above all else. On face value, these words feel right; we want our children and our students to be able to navigate obstacles and not be defeated by setbacks. At the same time, we owe it to them to thoroughly understand the assumptions that underlie these concepts about learning and success, and question their real usefulness in explaining what goes into student outcomes – before we apply them.

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Stuart Rhoden, Ph.D. is originally from Chicago, IL. He has been in education for over 15 years. He worked in Washington D.C. and Chicago on education policy and advocacy. He also was a high school teacher in Chicago and Los Angeles for a number of years. For the past five years, he has been a lecturer teaching on issues of culture and diversity, education policy, education philosophy and youth cultures in colleges both in Philadelphia and Phoenix. He currently lives in Phoenix, where he is a full-time Instructor at Arizona State University Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.

In the past three or four years, there has been a grassroots movement across the country created by some progressive educational groups surrounding students “Opting out” of mandatory high-stakes state test.  My opinion of this is that it is a copout. Until we change the system at broader systemic levels, we are not adequately preparing our students to succeed if we tell them they can opt-out of assessments along the way. This goes well beyond the “work harder/smarter” or “bootstraps” mentality that is often cited as code for structural inequality, but rather my perspective stems from an insistence that students can shine in an inequitable system as it is currently constructed. What is equally important is that as the adults; including educators, policy makers and researchers, need to consider more appropriate ways to analyze positive academic achievement, as well as strive towards creating more accurate measures of student achievement. The student’s role, while important, should not focus on being change agents of systemic inequality (that should be left to the adults), but rather beacons of light who consistently overcome systemic inequality. Read more

Melanie Bertrand is an Assistant Professor at Arizona State University in Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. She holds a Ph.D. in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles, and served as a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Southern California. Her research employs micro- and macro-level lenses to explore the potential of student voice to challenge systemic racism in education.

(Photo Credit: Deanna Alejandra Dent)

“The claim we found is that students don’t have access to culturally relevant textbooks. I feel that if textbooks will have stories about my culture, I’ll feel more engaged with the class.” Alma, Latina high school student

Alma[1] made this statement to an engrossed audience at an educational conference in 2011. She and other Students of Color were presenting research findings from a study they implemented on access to educational resources—like textbooks and technology—at their urban high schools. After Alma left the podium, another student spoke about the surveys and interviews the group conducted to arrive at the claim, showing a PowerPoint slide with the following quotes from high school students:

“The only thing the history book mentions about Black culture is slavery.”

“The history I know is about White culture; I don’t know [anything] about my culture!” Read more

We obtained permission to reprint in our blog series a letter written by Rae Paris. The letter was originally published in blackspaceblog.com. Rae Paris addresses the historic and recent events of police brutality. It has been signed by over 1,000 Black professors around the world.

Photo caption: Black students and professors, Beaumont Tower, Michigan State University, December 6, 2014.

The citation for the original publication is:

Paris, Rae. (December 8, 2014). An Open Letter of Love to Black Students: #BlackLivesMatter. Retrieved from http://blackspaceblog.com/2014/12/08/an-open-letter-of-love-to-black-students-blacklivesmatter/

Rae Paris is from Carson, California. Her writing appears or is forthcoming in The Common, Guernica, Dismantle, Solstice, and other journals. Her work has been supported by the NEA Literature Fellowship, and residencies from Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, the Hambidge Center, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Hedgebrook, and VONA. Her poem “The Forgetting Tree” was selected as Best of the Net 2013, and she has been nominated for a Pushcart. She teaches fiction at the Bread Loaf School of English, and lives and writes mostly in East Lansing, Michigan where she’s Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Michigan State University. 

We are Black professors.

We are daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces, nephews, godchildren, grandfathers, grandmothers, fathers, and mothers.

We’re writing to tell you we see you and hear you. Read more

Rebeca Burciaga is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and a member of the Core Faculty for the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership in the Connie L. Lurie College of Education at San José State University. Dr. Burciaga’s research centers on understanding and challenging educational practices and structures that (re)produce social inequalities for historically marginalized communities, including/specifically Latino students.  Her research in schools and communities spans over 20 years and includes mixed-methods research on pathways from preschool to the professoriate, the experiences of students who leave high school before graduation, and the ways in which geographic regions structure inequalities. She specializes the study of qualitative research methodologies including testimonio and ethnography. Her current research and teaching is focused on cultivating asset-based mindsets in teachers and administrators that work with youth of color.  Dr. Burciaga is a co-founder and co-coordinator of the Institute for Teachers of Color Committed to Racial Justice. She has an undergraduate degree from the University of California at Santa Cruz, a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a Ph.D. in Education from the University of California at Los Angeles.  Her research has been supported and recognized by the Spencer Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the National Institute of Health, and the American Association of University Women. Her most recent scholarship can be found in Equity & Excellence in Education, the Association of Mexican American Educators Journal, and the Educational Administration Quarterly.

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Cean Richard Colcord is a doctoral student pursuing a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Special Education. He is also a university teaching and research assistant and a current special education teacher in the Isaac school district. He received concurrent Bachelor’s degrees in special education and human communication and a Master’s degree in educational technology from Arizona State University. His research examines the use of educational technology in special education and the ways in which it can be used to improve access, adequacy, and equity in special education. He is also interested in the stories and voices of children with disabilities, the shielded identities of children with disabilities in online classrooms, school-wide positive behavior supports, and pre-service special education teacher preparation. Mr. Colcord was selected as the 2011-2012 Robert Rutherford Fellow in Special Education and is a member of the American Educational Research Association, Council for Exceptional Children, and the Arizona Technology in Education Alliance. In 2011, Mr. Colcord was selected as a Rodel Exemplary Teacher for his record of extraordinary student achievement in high-poverty schools.

One night around 3:00 am, I woke up to what appeared to be a flashlight beaming in through my bedroom window.  I laid silently as thoughts began floating to consciousness trying to make sense of the light, when I heard our backdoor creaking under the force of something prying at it.  As a twelve year old boy living with my mother, stepfather, and my brother in a under resourced neighborhood in downtown Phoenix I suddenly understood someone was trying to break into our apartment.

I ran quietly into the living room where my parents were sleeping.  I placed my mouth close to my stepfather’s ear and in a rush whispered, “Someone’s trying to break in.”  He jumped up and went toward the back door, and I trailed behind him.  Together we chased the burglar away.  A dark shadow disappeared into the night.

I returned to bed and laid there with my heart beating quickly as my thoughts worked through what had just happened.  My thoughts and my heart beat eventually slowed down as sleep began creeping back over my body, when I suddenly heard a loud POP.

I sat up, looked at my brother, and I fell off the bed onto the floor. Through a fog I recall my stepfather running into my room and him and my brother repeatedly trying to pick me back up. Read more

Helen Anderson is the Manager of Curriculum and Research at Harmony Movement, a not-for-profit organization that delivers educational programming on equity and inclusion to youth, educators, and social service providers, empowering them to become leaders of social change. Helen completed her Ph.D. in Theory and Policy Studies in Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto, focusing in her research on social justice and anti-racism education.  She has taught at Sir Wilfrid Laurier University and has worked with numerous community service organizations to address issues such as racism, food security, gender-based violence, youth violence, and homophobia.

 

What is it that stands in the way of truly empowering educational experiences?  Fear.  Fear of who we could be and fear of who we are.  Fear that others will misjudge us.  Fear that their judgments will be correct.  Fear of losing power.  Although fear may make school equity movements feel slow and fruitless, hope can remind us of the powerful tools we have at our disposal that make a difference in youths’ lives. 

At a time when educational equity is clouded with fear, I look for hope.  I found that hope recently at a conference on education that transformed the way I think about teaching and learning.  The Lost Lyrics Symposium, was a conference focused on creating an education system from the ground up, guided by the needs and input of young people, parents/guardians, and community members.  It highlighted the need to address the disconnect between the lived realities of many students and their experiences of school.  Read more

Clare Okyere is currently the Teacher on Assignment at Herrera School for the Fine Arts and Dual Language, prior to which she served as a fifth grade teacher in the same school for five years.  During the past few years Clare oversaw the Teacher Assistance Team at her school to ensure teachers were supported and well informed in implementing the Response to Intervention framework to better meet the needs of all students.  Clare was recently selected as a grant recipient for a fully funded Master’s program based on her leadership skills in her school district.  She began her coursework this summer in Educational Administration & Supervision in ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.  In addition to her work and studies Clare is also a co-founder of Twenty-Nine Eleven Productions, a publishing company through which Clare has served as a book editor and more recently published her first children’s book Bluebird, Bluebird.  While Clare’s roles have shifted over the past few years, her commitment to serving all students with high standards remains constant.

 

I was recently asked a simple enough question, What is the role of the teacher?  Initially, I thought, That’s easy enough. That’s who I am. It’s at my core. Of course I can answer that question.

But then, I started reflecting, like teachers are prone to do, and that seemingly simple question became much more complex. My role was constantly changing through my experiences as a teacher.  For instance, when I was still in college the role of the teacher meant we focused on pedagogy—how to teach the children.  I was prepared to go into my first job and rise to the challenge of teaching students to use inquiry to learn the secrets of simple machines, to use questioning to create mathematical conjectures, and to facilitate literature studies that would allow children to “read the world.”   When I became a full time teacher the reality of a classroom context dramatically stretched my understanding of my role.  My focus on pedagogy was not enough to meet the demands of teaching.  Thirty students with different life histories, cultures, languages, educational strengths and struggles, family dynamics, reading levels, attendance patterns, socioeconomics, and more entered the classroom.  In order to meet their needs I had to reconsider my role.

In fact, give me a multiple choice question, and I’d probably think my way into getting it wrong.

Question: What is the role of the teacher?

  • Choice A would be something like, “Facilitator of knowledge.” That’s true.
  • Choice B – “Advocate.” Yep.
  • Choice C – “Counselor.” Yes, each and every day.
  • And finally, the ever famous D, “All of the above.”

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Sikivu Hutchinson, Ph.D. is a senior intergroup specialist for the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission and founder of the Women’s Leadership Project, a high school feminist mentoring program. She is the author of Imagining Transit: Race, Gender, and Transportation Politics in Los Angeles, Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars and the forthcoming Godless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels.

 
In April thousands of schools did outreach for Denim Day, a global observance that honors sexual assault survivors. This Denim Day my Women’s Leadership Project (WLP) students from Gardena and Washington Prep High schools in South Los Angeles conducted classroom trainings on gender equity and sexual violence; challenging their peers to critically examine the media, school, and community images that promote sexualized violence against women of color. WLP is a feminist humanist mentoring and advocacy program based at Gardena and Washington Prep, sponsored by the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission. Like most South Los Angeles schools these two campuses are predominantly black and Latino. They have high foster care, homeless, and juvenile offender populations and will be among the most deeply impacted campuses if the Los Angeles Unified School District proceeds with a plan to phase out health education requirements.

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